excerpt from:
"Timeline Therapy as the Journey of Joseph Campbell’s Thousand-Faced Hero"
Shirley Meier
Heilkunst 1.1, June 1999

When I began sequential treatment I had no idea that I would be living like a hero. Joseph Campbell’s "hero with a thousand faces" (from the book of the same name) to be more exact. Nor did I have any idea that I would be taking the hero’s journey not once but many times.

Campbell postulated that the hero cycle in human myth and legends has a specific and compelling psychological basis, a symbolism that occurs in stories over and over again, in every culture of the world. This is the voyage of the young hero, past monsters and trials, down into the darkness of the Underworld, where in the course of the journey he (or she) finds within himself his core, his courage, his integrity, his truth — the true meaning of the word "heroism" — and brings it out into the light for the rest of us.

The Greeks had Orpheus descend past the three-headed dog Cerberus into Hades to rescue Eurydice, J.R.R. Tolkien sent Frodo and Sam down into the land of Mordor, while Dorothy faces darkness not once but three times — twice before the Wizard of Oz and once in the Wicked Witch’s castle. Luke Skywalker gives himself into the Dark Emperor’s hands; Captain Picard faces the Borg; Ripley faces the Alien Queen.

Truth and integrity, finding one’s core, one’s courage — these all have the same meaning as health, and healing; thus the hero’s journey and the patient’s are one and the same.

The Cerberus that I faced at the outset of my own therapy was the compiling of my trauma list. I dodged away from that task as long as I could but when I finally sat down and did it — literally sweating — I found that the Hellhound gazing at me had fewer teeth than I had expected. Putting the words down on the screen was like cramming the foaming jaws with my intention to heal, my will to be healthy, like stuffing that intent down the throat of my past so as to come safely past Its bite.

After that, I thought, "the remedies will be a piece of cake." I’m still laughing about that one...

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